It was New Years Day 2018.
With the new year comes with a sense that we all should do something that we’ve always felt an urge to start, but because we didn’t know how, or thought the idea of it alone sounded like it was something that we should do, we just never really got around to it before.
New years resolutions range wildly from person to person, From learning a new language, going on a diet perhaps. Or as it was in my case, put on a pair of running shoes and kick start a new healthy habit.
Now, while my mind had thought about this concept briefly and was quite happy in the idea that this was an excellent use of my time and energy. It had not taken into account the key fact that I hadn’t run in years (except when I was late in school perhaps), or the reality that the weather conditions outside on this particular day were so blustery, that trees and other deep-rooted plants were having a hard time staying upright.
So after putting on an extra hoody to keep warm, I opened the front door and stepped out into a new world beyond the threshold. The next time that I crossed that mark, I would be a runner and on my way to being a better version of myself.
I didn’t lend to much thought to deciding where I was going, or how far I would try to run for, maybe until I decided that the feeling of my lungs trying to escape through my throat was too much? I decided in the end that perhaps a mile or two was quite adequate.
Before I set off, I pulled out my smartphone and loaded up some motivational music. I needed something to keep my mind off of the inevitable pain that I was about to experience, and having Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger blaring into my eardrums when the going got tough, would I thought, see me through to the end of this part of my new resolution.
I started slowly, to begin with, just one foot in front of the other and for the first few minutes, I felt pretty good. The new shoes I was wearing were comfy on my feet, the hoody I was wearing was keeping me warm (but not too warm), and the sounds in my ear were doing their intended job of keeping me in line.
Then I turned the corner and my body came into contact with the full force of mother nature and everything went out the window.
Strava statistics from that day
So after running a distance that was probably less than some people run for the bus. I turned back defeated. But after returning to the sanctuary of my home, I decided that even though this was a setback in my resolution, it wasn’t going to be a reason for me to quit. I refused to become another statistic
The aftermath and decision to continue
So following on from that less than ideal start for my new healthy habit. In the weeks that followed, I kept on running, forcing myself to do a little bit each week to not only keep my resolution on track. But as the miles and Strava posts stacked up. I was slowly starting to see why people ran. It was becoming something that I enjoyed doing.
Fast forward a couple of months into my running journey and it was still very much a hobby at that point. Something that I did for the enjoyment factor, helped me to destress after a long day in the office and gave me a reason to annoy all my Facebook friends with my constant posts about running (sorry guys!). So I decided at that point that maybe it was time to take this hobby to the next level and enter a local race.
The longest run that I had completed at that point was maybe 9 miles (which amazed me at the time!) and I wanted to push myself further, to set myself a challenge which not only I felt was achievable and realistic, but would also give me an incentive as something to work towards.
So I settled on the Devizes half marathon and got to work. The reality of running my first race after starting what was at the time, nothing more than a new years resolution and a reason to get healthy felt like a massive step up. But I realised that for me to continue to run consistently and not just coast along. I needed to do something that gave me a goal to head towards.
The Devizes half marathon route
When I finished that race, I felt unbelievable, like I could take on the world and come out on top. This was not going to be the end of my running career. Or my new habit of setting myself challenges. Tests that not only threw me outside of my comfort zone and made me rely on my instincts to succeed. But also activities that forced me to learn new skills and grow as a person.
I have at this point, clock up 1000+ miles of running, completed four half marathons, one (soon to be two!) full marathons and amassed quite a nice collection of running shoes, kit and bling to show for it.
But what does running have to do with my decision to be a freelance software tester?
I started my career in software testing/quality assurance over eight years ago now and at that time, it was mainly a source of income that allowed me to exercise the problem solving and inquisitive part of my brain. But also allowed me to do something new (I didn’t know anything about UAT or risk-based testing back then!) and take part in something that was challenging at the same time.
I loved my position, the opportunities it provided me and the people that I had met along the way. But as I become accustomed to actively giving myself new challenges to overcome and force myself outside of my comfort zone. I felt a desire to do something with my career that would not only fulfil the criteria of putting me in unfamiliar surroundings. But would also allow me to fully take control of the direction of my career, forcing me to learn new skills, and be placed in new situations that a normal office worker doesn’t usually find themselves in.
I still wanted to be a software tester and work within quality assurance. I don’t think I’ll ever lose that bug (pun intended). But I simply wanted to do something new with my career. I had always possessed a deep interest with entrepreneurship and felt a desire to build something of my own, carve out my destiny and allow me to be fully in control of my working life.
So after waking up one day, not being sure of what to do next. I decided to do the one thing that was scary to me at the time.
I set myself the challenge of becoming a full-time freelance software tester.
Of course, this decision wasn’t taken without some sort of risk assessment taking place. I am a software tester after all! But after taking stock of all the resources available to me, my goals for my career and what was important to me now, and in the future. Going to a self-employed lifestyle felt like the right decision for me, and one that had to be made.